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‘Scooby’ Web junket collars bad buzz

Five Net reporters flown to Oz location

Junkets have come to the Internet.

Bad Internet buzz on the feature version of “Scooby Doo” has forced Warner Bros. to take the unusual step of flying a bunch of cyber-geeks halfway around the world.

At AintItCoolNews.com, editor Harry Knowles dismissed the script in an angry page-scrolling tirade. Web site Coming Attractions said tests for the film’s computer-animated title character “looked awful.”

While online adversity isn’t a new challenge for film studios, Warner Bros. needs the Internet audience on its side for “Scooby,” slated for release in June 2002. The Net reaches the same young fan base the studio is trying to target for the pic. The live-action remake of the popular ’70s toon series stars teen faves Sarah Michelle Gellar and new fiance Freddie Prinze Jr.

Warners decided to meet its detractors face to face — in Australia, where “Scooby” is shooting.

Five Internet reporters, including some from Canada-based Coming Attractions, were flown Down Under. They joined three Aussie cyberscribes, including Garth Franklin of DarkHorizons.com, to be wined and dined for two days, viewing the set and interviewing filmmakers and key cast members.

Reps for AintItCoolNews were not invited by Warners due to the site’s negative coverage of the pic to date.

The stunt already seems to be working for Warners: Fresh on-set photos of the cast have already appeared on several Web sites with positive thoughts from geeks regarding the pic’s look.

Coming Attractions could only agree: “The promise of pleasant surprises all starts with the set design, which is just incredible.”

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